I decided to watch the Billboard Awards Sunday evening, actually forgoing other programs that held more interest to me but I did what I tell my students to do “expose and educate yourself about things you that you don’t know too much about”…in this case current musical performers.  So there I was watching people perform and receive awards that I had really never heard about. yes, I know John Legend, Lorde, Drake, Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus, Ed Sheeran, The Weekend, etc. but many I didn’t know nor will I be adding them to my playlist.  I can, in fact, tell you I would sit through the evening many times over just to see Celine Dion and most importantly the one, the only Cher!!!!  Amazing performance and look, I am all about not discussing age but seriously to look and sound like that at 71…no words!!!

Okay, you know I’m going to have a story to tell you about the first time I saw and heard Sonny and Cher…it was in the fall of 1964, no one had ever heard of them.  Let me start at the beginning of this story,  each summer, for many years, all the major stores in Chicago had College Boards. I was in charge of the department (at the beginning I was younger than most of the girls on the Board, they never knew that!) and I personally would interview the young ladies (we didn’t have any young men on the Boards) and would choose six to eight to work in our Debutante Sportswear Collections (now Contemporary Sportswear or whatever it is called today) on the Fifth Floor of Saks Fifth Avenue at the 669 North Michigan Avenue location.  I did a mix of schools, some local, some small, some large, an Ivy League or two, etc. and the young ladies worked as sales associates to assist their peers in selecting their college wardrobes. Often the colleges gave incoming students a list of what they needed to have as they began their college adventures much like going off to camp!  They wore very chic  (and pricey) “uniforms” to identify them from the other sales associates and to be easily spotted on the selling floor.  We set up a special boutique on the floor and pulled merchandise from all over the store, along with accessories, shoes, etc. (there was actually a lower price and younger shoe department on the floor as well).  Each store had its own group and many had much larger groups, such as Marshall Field’s and Carson Pirie Scott and Company, Chas A. Stevens, The Fair and on and on.

You are thinking, okay Nena has finally gone mad what in the world does this have to do with Sonny and Cher…well I’m getting to that…at the end of the summer, just before everyone was heading back to school The Chicago Tribune hosted a huge party, as I recall at the Sherman House (long gone), in a large banquet hall on the lower level of the Hotel.  Each store lined up and their Boards were introduced as they paraded into the hall in their uniforms.  Field’s had dozens of girls and in we came with our six or eight, I must say we always looked extremely fashion forward!  The Tribune always had entertainment, lovely refreshments and brief remarks to send everyone off to their various campuses. image


When the entertainment was announced out came a unique looking couple, I can’t really say Hippies more like two waifs that had been living in a cabin in the woods.  Totally covered in fur, patterned shirts, and jeans.  The female with luxurious long black hair and gleaming eyes and the male almost elf-like in his manner.  The room was unprepared for them and became quite still. They approached the stage and began to sing I’ve Got You Babe, needless to say, the crowd erupted, it was magic.  50 some years later it still gives me a chill to think about it.   If I Could Turn Back Time……would I, I’ll let you be the judge of that!!!! With Cher still dazzling us who needs to!


  1. Dianne Erpenbach May 24, 2017 / 12:33 pm

    What a precious memory, love the innocent photos of Cher & Sonny.

    • nenasnotes May 24, 2017 / 12:46 pm

      I couldn’t find a photo of them covered in what looked like “road kill”! Just think we would either be at CSA or on our way…great memories as well!!!!

  2. Tom Mantel May 24, 2017 / 1:05 pm

    Great story!

  3. Karen Ryan May 24, 2017 / 1:35 pm

    Loved the blog, Nena! You hit it out of the park. Now I have to go back and watch the Billboards on demand!

    • nenasnotes May 24, 2017 / 1:55 pm

      Thanks so much Karen. Just watch the end when Cher does her thing. It is an amazing performance.

  4. candacejordan May 24, 2017 / 2:31 pm

    No words….those photos…omg!






    • nenasnotes May 24, 2017 / 2:56 pm

      I know and they were much better than they actually looked in person and then they sang….WOW!!!

  5. Jo Ellen Madden May 24, 2017 / 2:45 pm

    Well written Nena! I watched it for the same reasons! LOL

    • nenasnotes May 24, 2017 / 2:57 pm

      Thanks so much. She was amazing!!!!

  6. Michael Hawley May 24, 2017 / 4:11 pm

    Thank you for sharing this. Reading it I recalled seeing S+C on television for the first time. The song was great, and as a kid in Cincinnati, I thought they were weirdly wonderful.

    • nenasnotes May 24, 2017 / 11:08 pm

      They were weirdly wonderful and became just plain wonderful!!!

  7. Michael May 24, 2017 / 10:47 pm

    Wow! I love your Sonny & Cher story. I remember as a kid sneaking downstairs where the TV was in our house to watch the Sonny & Cher show. My Mom wouldn’t let us watch it because of Cher’s outlandish costumes, which I loved!! At 71, she is beyond amazing!

    • nenasnotes May 24, 2017 / 11:10 pm

      Thanks so much. Her TV costumes were very modest compared to her on stage Mackie. All fantastic and all pushing the envelope, always with tongue in cheek!!

  8. Marcia Buchanan May 25, 2017 / 11:28 am

    I agree with you about Cher and how great she looks at 71. I have always loved her costumes that Bob Mackie designed for her.
    Ironically I was on the Marshall Fields College Board you mentioned and we had Courreges outfits. I never walked out of the store with a paycheck just clothes that summer! What a fun experience it was. I had not thought about that time until your blog . Thanks for the memory!

    • nenasnotes May 25, 2017 / 12:43 pm

      Here you are again!! How fun that you were on the College Board. They were indeed fun times or perhaps just nostalgia!!!

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